My love for the Blue Ridge Mountains came at an early age. Like many kids in Charlottesville, Va., I grew up hiking, biking, fishing, skiing and paddling, but it was my grandparents who really taught me about the Blue Ridge Mountains. They had an Airstream trailer—the big silver spaceship-looking thing that still turns heads today on the highways and in campgrounds.Every weekend and all summer, I would take off with my grandparents on another adventure in the mountains. We hit every campground from Pennsylvania to Georgia, often driving on the Parkway and exploring back roads. My grandfather taught me about the mountains and mountain people, and I became comfortable in the woods and was always ready for an adventure.Fishing was an important part of almost all of these weekends and summer adventures. My grandfather (I called him Dub for reasons unknown to me) fancied himself as a fisherman, and he loved fresh rainbow trout. He didn’t know the term “catch and release” but he knew how to fillet a fresh caught fish and cook it to perfection on his grill outside the Airstream. He started teaching me to fish at trout farms and fish hatcheries where you could put just about anything on the end of a hook and catch a fish.I quickly graduated to the rivers, streams and lakes of Appalachia. We went deep into the mountains on dirt roads in his old wood-paneled Suburban, passing dozens of fishable spots, and hiked miles of unmarked trails in search of the “secret spot.” These secret spots didn’t come from online research or a paid guide — they came through connecting the old fashioned way, by talking to locals. He had a system. Each time we would go into a new area or return to an area we had previously been, we’d hit up the local gas station and convenience store. Even today, these stores can be the centerpieces of some rural communities. He would get to know folks, ask questions, and when they told my grandfather to go to the place down the road where they sent everyone, he smiled and dug a little deeper. Eventually “the secret spot” would come out of them. As a kid, the list of directions, turns, and odd landmarks—all delivered by a thick Appalachia accent—was dizzying. And almost every time, my grandfather was able to make the turn at the “pregnant tree” or “where the three legged dog barks” and find that secret spot.One day I asked, “Dub, I wonder if we stopped at all of those other spots closer to the campground if we would catch as many fish as at the secret spot?” I remember his mouth gaping slightly and his foot coming off the gas of the Suburban slowing the vehicle down the dirt road and he said, “I don’t know. I suppose we could try, but what would be the fun in that?”I realized that eating a great trout dinner at the end of the day wasn’t the goal—it was the icing on the cake to a great day of adventure and conquering the unknown in pursuit of trout. It required persistence, attention to detail, and patience, and the reward was delicious. And sometimes at night around the community campground campfire after my grandfather told some strangers about our adventures, if the person asked just the right questions, he would tell them how to get to the secret spot.I would have never imagined back then that one day I would own a media company that’s main goal is to tell our fans, followers, and readers how to go outside and play. We are oftentimes criticized for giving up “secret spots” and sending readers into places that were previously only known by a small group of people. We don’t give up everything, and we still hold plenty of secrets, but we take our goal of encouraging people to get outside seriously. If someone wants to work hard enough to find some of the spots we uncover, then I hope the people who hold those spots sacred can be impressed enough to share them with others. In this day and age where everyone is looking for a quick “experience,” even Dub could probably get on board with this notion.As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary and I look back on the past 11 years that I have been with Blue Ridge Outdoors, I can’t express how lucky I am to do this for a living. But none of this would be possible without our dedicated readers.
Injured Troy HerculesAfter intense grilling by detectives from G Division (Essequibo Coast and Islands), the two suspects who were apprehended in connection with the violent robbery committed on a barber have confessed.Forty-two-year-old Troy Hercules, also called “Akee”, was shot on Saturday by gunmen in front of his Henrietta, Essequibo Coast home. Hercules is presently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Suddie Public Hospital.The injured man on life supportSixteen-year-old Mahindra Giranandan, also called Anish, of Adventure, Essequibo and 23-year-old Mark Rafino, of Queenstown village, Essequibo have admitted to Police that they indeed robbed and shot Hercules. Both suspects were trying to escape the Region (Pomeroon-Supenaam) when Police nabbed them at Supenaam and Parika respectively.During a search of one of the suspects, detectives discovered a quantity of jewellery suspected to be Hercules’ and a .32 pistol with 11 matching rounds. Information revealed that the two unemployed men were seen earlier at Queenstown village at the same barbecue Hercules was attending on the night of his birthday. At the time, Hercules was reportedly wearing several heavy gold chains, rings and a band worth $3.5 million. Investigations revealed that the duo tailed Hercules to his home and when he exited his vehicle, they attacked, shooting him four times as they relieved him of his belongings.Hercules was rushed into the theatre at Suddie Public Hospital on Saturday morning for emergency surgery. The four bullets were successfully removed from his chest and legs.According to the victim’s reputed wife, Sheoma Critchlow, his condition is improving and he has regained consciousness. She, however, noted that he was crying out for pain about his body.Family members of the injured man are calling on the Police to thoroughly investigate the matter, contending that the gunmen should be dealt with according to the law.Hercules is the owner of the popular barber shop, Future Cut. Police are continuing their investigations and charges will soon be laid against the duo.